There are more than 400 million active users of WhatsApp, an instant-messaging service that has revolutionized how we communicate which each other. So, what’s the big deal with it? Well, compared to older services such as iMessage or BBM, WhatsApp is a platform independent way to communicate with other cellphone users on any variety of smartphones. And since it works either via Wi-Fi or an existing data plan, the cost is ultra-low (sometimes even free).
The service features group messaging, voice messaging, video messaging, Geo-location and the ability to send images — the app is supported across Android, iOS, Windows Phone 8, Nokia devices and even Blackberry.
Since it’s a must have tool for any smartphone user, accidental deletion, theft, loss and damaged are all common occurrences everyone should guard against. However, rest assured that we’ve got your back when it comes to backing up the apps’ chat history. Most of these tips are based on the Android version of WhatsApp, but unless otherwise stated, should work for all versions and across most platforms.
Enabling Automatic Backup
WhatsApp takes backing up messages very seriously, and does so automatically at 4 A.M. everyday by default. Users are free to customize what time their backups are done, over which network (WI-FI or data) and can even do an immediate backup at anytime.
If something happens and a restore is in order, simply reinstall WhatsApp and it will find the backed up messages from a device’s SD card and bring them back to life during the re-installation process. A message will pop up offering to restore the latest backup. Just click away on restore and all should be fine.
How to Backup and Restore Manually
Maybe an older set of messages needs to be brought back to life some time in the future, if that’s the case, do a manual restore. Be warned: a manual restore will overwrite more recent messages and those cannot be retrieved.
According to WhatsApp, the best way to do save up-to-date messages is via a manual backup. Go to “chat settings” and look at the “backup conversations” section. This shows the last backup and tapping it will trigger a backup of the latest conversations. Next, use a file manager program and navigate to the Whatsapp/Databases folder.
Find the latest backup file (called msgstore.db.crypt on Android) and rename the file for easier identification. Next, rename it to msgstore.db.crypt. Uninstall WhatsApp and reinstall it, then hit the restore button to undergo a normal restoration. The process is much simpler for iPhone and Windows Phone users.
Backing Up WhatsApp When Moving Phones
Backing up WhatsApp’s chat history from one phone to another generally only works within the same operating system. Which means it’s easy to move from iPhone to iPhone, or from Android phone to Android — but not so easy from an Android phone to an iPhone. Getting data back on a new device is pretty easy, simply insure the msgstore.db.crypt (or equivalent depending on the OS) is inside the new phone’s SD card, and follow the same backup procedure we’ve outlined above. (See detailed instructions on AndroidPIT.)
But, what if the new phone sports internal storage only (like iPhones)? In such a case, transfer the folder that contains the backup file onto a new phone; using drag and drop; by connecting a phone to your computer via USB. Once the correct backup file is inside internal storage, simply install WhatsApp, it’ll once again automatically find the backup.
Also, the iPhone Backup Extractor and WhatsAppXtract apps can be used to extract and read WhatsApp chats on a computer, making said chats easy to read on desktops and freeing up precious phone storage space. Together, these two apps allow access to backup files, computer transfer and they read data backups.
Restoring WhatsApp On Different Phone Operating Systems
Here’s one final important tip. The creators of WhatsApp say:
“You cannot restore chat history from any other phone type to Android, or from Android to another phone type.”
But that’s not strictly speaking — true. A service called WhatsApp Migrator allows people who are moving from an iPhone to an Android phone (but sadly, not the other way round) to bring their chat logs along with them.
The Migrator tool requires an iPhone backup tool which creates an unencrypted backup, after which the tool is used to merge that file with the chat log on an Android phone. Finally, uninstall and reinstall WhatsApp and follow the normal restore process as always.
WhatsApp has taken the smartphone world by storm and shows no signs of abating any day soon. Figuring out how to backup your chat history will insure important (and frivolous) conversations remain available if accidents do happen.
Frequently Asked Questions
Along the way we have found that there are common questions asked about WhatsApp, its restoration options and some general functionalities of the application. Here are the questions and answers.
1. Which Exact Systems Does WhatsApp Work On?
WhatsApp can be downloaded, installed and used on the following smartphone systems:
- Nokia S40
- Nokia S60
- BlackBerry 10
- Windows Phone.
At this time, no other devices are supported by Whatsapp.
2. Can I Transfer Chats Between Any of The Supported Phones?
Conversations can be moved from one iPhone to another and one Android to another. Special instructions can be found to transfer data on a Nokia S60 or BlackBerry 10. Unfortunately, Nokia S40, BlackBerry and Windows Phones cannot transfer chat data.
3. Are WhatsApp Messages Secure?
WhatsApp messages are encrypted in the cloud — so they are safe as a cloud service can keep them. However, the app does not protect against other people viewing messages on your device.
4. Are All Apple Devices Supported by WhatsApp?
WhatsApp runs on all iPhones running iOS 4.3 or newer. Logically, newer iOS version run more feature rich and less buggier version of the app. iPods and iPads however are not supported.
5. What is Archive Chat?
This features allows one to hide a conversation from the original chats screen and access it later. Individual and group chats can both be archived. Archiving does not delete the chat or back it up to a media card.